The pathology of a hard heart
You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. – Hebrews 3:13
8 The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.”
9 “For there, your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did.”
10 “For forty years, I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Close to 700,000 people die from heart disease each year in the United States. That is approximately 25%, 1 out of 4, of all deaths. Heart disease is a catch-all term covering several different types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD).
Often heart disease is a “silent” killer and is not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia. Many Americans are walking time bombs. Contrary to the depictions found on TV and in movies, the number one symptom of heart disease is sudden death. It just happens.
The human heart is a muscle. It pumps blood throughout our bodies. Every person on earth has an expiration date. It’s not stamped anywhere on the body and is unknown to us. Regardless, we expire right on schedule when our expiration date arrives.
But there is a form of heart disease, a far more severe condition, spiritual heart disease. It is a congenital disease that results from human DNA passed down from Adam and Eve. All human children are born with this condition.
Spiritual heart disease, referred to as a hardened heart in the Scriptures, is also a “silent” killer. Scriptural truths are comprehended and ultimately believed with our spiritual hearts. People with hardened hearts are dull of hearing. They are incapable of understanding and believing biblical truth without the miraculous intervention of the Father. He alone can open the eyes of our hearts that we might see and understand (Ephesians 1:18). Until that time, we are physically alive but spiritually dead. Tragically, they just don’t get it.
1 Once, you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.
2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,
5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
REFLECT & PRAY
It may sound overly simplistic, but it is worth consideration. “The heart of every problem is a problem in the heart” (Wiersbe).
Father search me and know my heart. Test me, know my anxious thoughts, and see if there’s any wicked way in me. Purge me and make me clean so that I may wholeheartedly follow You.
Psalms 95:8 The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.”
What is the etiology of a hard heart? Psalms 95:8 contains critical terms that unpack the origin of hard hearts. They are hiding in plain sight: Meribah and Massah. These two terms are essentially codewords. With a bit of digging, their meaning becomes clear. The Hebrew term Meribah means place of strife, rebellion, quarrel, or contention. TheHebrew term Massah has the sense of testing, trial, temptation, or place of strife, conflict, or contention. The hardness of the heart begins when people quarrel or argue with the Father. Such dissent challenges Father’s Absolute authority. The Father allows people to put Him to the test. But never the best of ideas. Why? Because He is God and we are not.
1 Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:
2 “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?
3 Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.
Israel’s actions and subsequent collateral damage found many places throughout the Scriptures.
Exodus 17:2 The people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?”
The people of Israel essentially argued with the Father and tested Him. Rebellion and defiance is the first step to a hardened heart. Insubordination and recalcitrance are rooted in the fertile soil of unbelief. Their trust and faith were extraordinarily superficial and short-lived. They had seen the Father’s mighty hand at work in the ten plagues of Egypt, the pillar of fire and the pillar of smoke, the opening of the Red Sea allowing them to safely crossover on dry ground, and the destruction of the army of Egypt. It was fantastic but short-lived.
“But as soon as the initial glow wore off, they outrageously cried, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ (Exodus 17:7). It was a fair-weather, herd-instinct faith – good until the first trial when it dissolved in unbelief.”
“The depth of their defective belief produced one other subsidiary characteristic – contempt/irreverence. Hence all the railing against God and his faithful servants. Thus we understand that the pathology of a hard heart originates in unbelief that spawns a hardened contempt . . . a hardness that works out in sinful disobedience” (Hughes).
Unlike strong and resilient cattle that turn into harsh winds and resist the storms of life, they were overcome and defeated.
Many people misunderstand and fail to see the warning signs of the onset of the silent killer of a hard heart within. Once they become apparent, the individual is already on a dangerous slippery slope. A hardened heart has seven warning signs: lack of understanding, bitterness and resentment, isolation from the Father and others, refusal to forgive, indifference, pride, and refusal to serve or receive service (crosswalk.com).
However, no one is doomed to live with a hardened heart permanently. The Lord Jesus Christ has provided a way out.
John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to shed light in the darkness of the hidden recesses of our hearts and souls. He knows everything. There are no surprises to Him. When we let down our shields and allow Him to shine His light on our defective beliefs, shallow faith, and erroneous perspectives, we begin to see things as they really are. We have only to let go, shift our positions, and commit to follow His magnificent leadership. The solution path is straightforward, but it isn’t easy. It goes against our fallen DNA.
Pray that your hearts will be flooded with light to understand (Ephesians 1:18).
© Dr. H 2022